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Budget Deficit Hits N4.5tr, Says DMO DG

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Nigeria’s budget deficit has risen from N1.847 trillion to N4.563 trillion, it was learnt on Monday.

The deficit figure captured in the original 2020 budget before its downward review was N1.847 trillion. It has gone up N4.563 trillion in the revised appropriation now awaiting National Assembly consideration and approval.

The Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms. Patience Oniha, dropped the hint during her presentation before the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debt considering President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external loan request.

Ms. Oniha said that the revised 2020 budget proposal is N10.509 trillion with a deficit of N4.563 trillion.

She said that the deficit would be financed through domestic borrowing of N2.188 trillion and external borrowing of N1.984 trillion making a total of N4.173.560 trillion.

She noted that the amount projected in this year’s appropriation was N1.594.986 trillion.

She said the increase in the New Borrowing for 2020 is due to the increase in the Deficit in the Budget from N2.18 trillion to N4.58 trillion.

Oniha explained: “The revision of the 2020 Budget became necessary due to the effects of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s Revenues and the need for new (previously unbudgeted) spending on health to meet the health challenges occasioned by COVID-19.

“The subsisting 2020 Appropriation Act had a total expenditure of N10.594 trillion and a deficit of N2.175 trillion to be part financed through New Domestic Borrowing of N744.98 billion and new external borrowing of N850 billion.

“The N850 billion new external borrowing which was to be raised through Eurobonds has been converted, with the approval of the National Assembly, to domestic borrowing due to lack of access to the International Capital Market at this time. Thus, the Total New Borrowing which is all domestic is N1.594 trillion.

“The proposed new domestic borrowing of N2,188.83 trillion will be raised from the domestic market through the issuance of Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds (FGN Bonds), FGN Savings Bonds, Sukuk, Nigerian Treasury Bills and possibly, a Green Bond.

“As at May 29, 2020, a total of N1.319.99 trillion had been raised. There is also an on-going Offer for Sukuk of N150 billion.”

She said that the DMO expected to raise the balance of N868.89 billion which is N2.188 billion less the N1.319 billion, in the course of 2020.

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FCCPC: Electricity Topped Consumers’ Complaints In 2020

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it received the highest consumer related complaints from the electricity sector in 2020.

Speaking in Abuja on Sunday, Babatunde Irukera (pictured), chief executive officer of FCCPC, said the banking and telecommunication sectors ranked second and third respectively on the complaints chart.

He added that the aviation sector was ranked fourth.

“Our complaints resolution team is still a very small team of people and they are dealing with thousands of complaints,” Irukera said.

“We are looking at expanding capacity to have more hands handling the complaints but the real game changer in handling complaints better and faster is for companies to start doing it.

“The person who has the least open complaint in our resolution team has about 800 complaints across sectors and that is one person. If you multiply it by 12 to 15 persons, you will imagine the number of complaints.

“Being able to expand to a point where we are able to operate more efficiently, we will keep training, leveraging technology, the more we leverage technology, the more efficiently we can do our work.”

The commission was established by the 2018 Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) to promote fair, efficient and competitive markets in the Nigerian economy, facilitate access by all citizens to safe products, and protect the rights of all consumers in Nigeria.

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FEC Approves CBN’s Request To Renovate National Theatre For N21b

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Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said on Wednesday that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the ministry of information and culture for the renovation of the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos.

He spoke at the end the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja.

The federal government, on July 12, 2020, handed over the national theatre to CBN and the bankers’ committee to signify the kick-start of the renovation process.

“This is a landmark approval because, it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry,” Mohammed said.

“The CBN and banker’s committee are willing to invest N21.894 billion to renovate, refurbish and commercialization (run it profitably) of the national theatre complex. The MoU has a life span of 21 years after which it will revert back to government.”

The minister assured that no job will be lost after the national theatre is renovated, adding that the “brand new national theatre, an event centre” will instead create more jobs.

Asides from this, FEC approved about N9.43 billion to complete the digital switch over (DSO) in broadcasting; N8.98 billion for a new national ICT park in the federal capital territory (FCT) to coordinate public and private ICT hubs in Nigeria.

The council also approved a new national policy on aging which would take care of the needs of the aged people across Nigeria; approved the ministry of water resources memo to construct Damaturu water supply project in Yobe state worth N8.43 billion.

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Adesina identifies Debt Service As Greatest Risk To Nigeria

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The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has warned that debt service is Nigeria’s greatest risk, even as he urged the federal government to take steps to increase tax revenue in the face of dwindling oil income.

The Director of Communications and Liaison of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Abdullahi Ahmad, stated that he spoke virtually at the recently held First Annual National Tax Dialogue .
Dr. Adesina was quoted as saying that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s economy shrank “by 3% in 2020 on account of falling oil prices and the effects of the lockdowns on economic activities,” adding, “with shrinkage in oil revenues, debt service payments pose the greatest risk to Nigeria.”
He stressed further that for Nigeria to overcome the pandemic, “taxes must form a significant percentage of government revenue. Digitalization of tax collection and tax administration is critical to ensure greater transparency of the tax system, widening of the tax base, while mitigating compliance risks and encouraging voluntary tax compliance.”
Tax experts and stakeholders at the event called for the automation of tax collection by the FIRS through data and intelligence in order to ease tax collection, as well as, improve revenue.
Executive Secretary, African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Mr. Logan Wort, harped on the place of technology in generating revenue for the country in a post-Covid economy.
Mr. Wort, who joined the dialogue virtually from South Africa, stated, “Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM) is expected to contribute at least 75% to 90% on average per country” in the post-Covid era, adding that Nigeria and other African countries should note, “improved tax revenue will have to take prime position” in the scheme of things.
He urged Nigeria to pay serious attention to e-commerce and the digital economy sector where big, trans-national digital conglomerates like Google, Netflix and Uber operate and make huge, tax-free profits as a possible way of increasing tax revenue generation.
He said Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Ghana in e-commerce taxation, projected to fetch Ghana $450 million in annual tax revenue.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was chairman of the Dialogue, was quoted as lauding the FIRS “for its performance in the 2020 fiscal year, despite operating in the most challenging period. The Service not only collected N4.9 trillion in taxes, achieving 98% of its target; only 30.6% of this was attributed to Petroleum Profits Tax, from what used to be over 50%”.
He urged participants to, “interrogate how Nigeria can further deepen the use of technology to improve tax compliance nationally and across sub-nationals.”

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